Spaghetti With Tuna, Peas and Lemon

Tuna is a simple, nutritious and flavorful addition to pasta. In fact, spaghetti al tonno is an Italian classic.

Over the past few months, we’ve grown used to digging through our pantries for dinner inspiration. I try to view it as a fun cooking challenge and an opportunity to (finally) use the stacks of canned, jarred and frozen goods that seem to have permanently populated my cabinets or burrowed themselves into the depths of the freezer. This pasta dish is a result of my kitchen foraging. The thing is, it’s also a delicious meal, and I wonder why I haven’t made it more often. 

Chances are, you already have the main ingredients — canned or jarred tuna, frozen peas and dried pasta -- stashed in your kitchen. Tuna is a simple, nutritious and flavorful addition to pasta. In fact, spaghetti al tonno is an Italian classic. When possible, use a sustainably sourced tuna, and don’t shy away from tuna packed in olive oil, especially for this recipe. It’s the oil that contributes flavor and richness to the dish.

Peas’ natural sweetness brightens the pasta and complements the briny tuna. I also add fresh chile pepper. If you don’t have one, increase the amount of dried red pepper flakes to 1 teaspoon.

This pantry-style dish can be on the table in 15 minutes, so add it to your repertoire of easy weeknight dinners. Shelter-in-place should not be the only time you make this recipe. It’s a keeper.

 

Spaghetti with tuna, peas and lemon 

Active Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: Serves: 4

 

Ingredients:

12 ounces spaghetti

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced or pushed through a press

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 cup frozen peas, defrosted 

1 (7-ounce) can or jar of tuna, packed in olive oil, drained 

1 small red jalapeno pepper, seeded, thinly sliced (optional)

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, plus extra for garnish

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

Directions:

Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water and drain the pasta.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute, and then add the peas and saute until heated through, about 1 more minute.

Add the tuna, jalapeno (if using), lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Turn off the heat and gently stir, without overmixing, to break up the tuna while maintaining a chunky texture (you don’t want to cook the tuna).

When the pasta is ready, add to the skillet. Over low heat, gently stir to combine and coat the spaghetti. If too dry, add some cooking water, 2 tablespoons at a time, to moisten to your taste. Divide the pasta among serving bowls. Garnish with the dill and additional lemon zest.

Lynda Balslev is a cookbook author, food and travel writer, and recipe developer based in the San Francisco Bay area. She studied cooking at Le Cordon Bleu Ecole de Cuisine in Paris and worked as a personal chef, culinary instructor, and food writer in Switzerland and Denmark. Her favorite activities include hiking, cooking dinners for her friends and family, and planning her next travel destination.

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